For a utility, guessing how much solar power its customers will build is devilishly hard. Over time, it will have a snowballing effect on the power grid, but it is made up of many unknowns: who will build, and where, at what size and in what year. A new report takes a look at the planning documents of 30 utilities around the country and compares the tools that they’re using to plan for distributed solar, as it’s known. Most of those power companies see rooftop solar as a problem, while a minority are beginning to view it as an agent that can solve problems.
One-third of the electricity used at Minnesota’s Capitol Complex will soon be powered by wind and solar farms in other parts of the state, if regulators approve a new proposal from the state and Xcel Energy. Lt. Gov Tina Smith said Wednesday that state officials intend to join an Xcel Energy program called Renewable Connect, which allows power customers to sign a long-term agreement to purchase power from renewable energy producers. The state’s entry into the program — which must still be approved by the Public Utilities Commission — would be a first for a government power customer and officials hope it will spur cities, counties and universities to look into using renewable energy.
President Obama yesterday ordered defense and military leaders to consider climate change when developing national-security-related doctrines, policies and plans. The memorandum — sent to more than 20 federal agencies and offices with climate science, intelligence and national security responsibilities — establishes a working group to create a “Climate Change and National Security Action Plan” within 90 days.
Electric vehicle giant Tesla yesterday announced it will deploy the largest lithium-ion battery project in the world to back up power in California. The 80-megawatt-hour system of Tesla Powerpacks is being tapped to fill a power gap in Los Angeles after the Aliso Canyon natural gas disaster, the worst natural gas leak in U.S. history.
“We’ve reached a tipping point — the economics of clean energy have arrived,” Mark Lewis, a Barclays analyst in Paris who’s tracked the market since its 2005 inception, said by phone. “Policy makers are now pushing at an open door because the technology is making it so much easier.”
One week from today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit will hear highly anticipated arguments in the unpredictable litigation over the Obama administration’s signature climate change rule. U.S. EPA’s foes have raised a host of legal challenges to the Clean Power Plan, which requires states to develop and put in place plans to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants.
The 27 states challenging Obama’s Clean Power Plan in court say the lower emissions levels it would impose are an undue burden. But most are likely to hit them anyway. Already, Arkansas, North Carolina, Oklahoma and South Dakota appear to be meeting the CPP’s early targets. And changes in the power market, along with policies favoring clean generation, are propelling most of the rest toward timely compliance, according to researchers, power producers and officials, as well as government filings reviewed by Reuters.
More than 50 groups are making a renewed push for Congress to extend multiple energy tax credits to avoid an investment plunge after this year. Allowing the expiration of tax credits threatens jobs and millions of dollars of investments, and favors some energy industries over others, the groups said on a conference call yesterday. Last year, Congress extended tax credits for wind and solar but not for other renewables like geothermal. Senate lawmakers have tried to move new extensions for other low-carbon sources.
“Offshore wind is an abundant source of renewable energy located near some of our nation’s largest cities and areas of electricity demand, but the nation still has only one project under construction off the coast of Rhode Island that recently completed construction and will be placed in service later this year,” the authors explained. “Europe currently has 11 GW of offshore wind installed. A new U.S. offshore wind sector could create thousands of jobs in businesses ranging from R&D and engineering to manufacturing and marine construction.”
While the United States led the world in wind energy generation last year, it has not sufficiently tapped into the nation’s offshore wind potential, according to the letter signed by Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R), the coalition’s chairman, and Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D), the vice chairwoman. “Offshore wind is an abundant source of renewable energy located near some of our nation’s largest cities and areas of electricity demand, but the nation still has only one project under construction off the coast of Rhode Island that recently completed construction and will be placed in service later this year,” said the letter, referring to the Block Island Wind Farm, which is expected to provide 30 megawatts of power to Rhode Island later this year.